Our Nile riverboat, the Movenpick Royal Lily, is amazingly comfortable with cabins more spacious than most hotels, each with a large picture window. We’ll be on it for three nights. A real treat to be able to spread out, and not live out of our suitcases. Boarded in time for an enormous, late lunch, time to get unpacked and oriented…and a delicious buffet dinner. A harbinger of the next six meals to come!
Our first really comfortable night’s sleep (nothing like sleeping on the water). The boat left at about 2 AM and docked near the Kom Ombo Temple at 6 am. We awoke to watch the docking process. We docked nearest to the shore, but you never know. There are so many riverboats at the “ports” that you may be docked side by side in a full stack of vessels. At times we had to walk through three other boats to get on shore, or to get back on.
After an enormous breakfast (everything but bacon since we are in a predominantly muslim country), we made the short walk to the Temple.
This is the perfect place to see Egyptian, Greek and Roman influences all in one place. The preservation of the Temple itself and the figures and glyphs are astounding. It is dedicated, uniquely, to two gods; the local crocodile god, Sobek, and Horus the Elder.
Temple of Kom Ombo
The Egyptians were well versed in the medical arts. In the photo to the left you can see birthing chairs, sophisticated medical and dental instruments and the letter R, meaning, by mouth, a precursor to our Rx.
On the right, Ptolemy XII being presented to Horus by Isis and the Lion-headed goddess, Raettawy.
Our tour guide, Soha, a multi-degreed Egyptologist blows our minds with her knowledge of ancient history and art, but also recent Egyptian history balanced with current events and evolving culture.
Tour of the Royal Lily
After running the gauntlet of hawkers, selling their wares along the path back to the boat, we join a group for a tour of the Royal Lily.
Quite a dichotomy. After seeing the ultra-sophisticated engine and generator room (powered by my old favorites; Caterpillar engines and generators), we enter the bridge to see the “captain” (not what he’s called on the Nile), sitting on his “throne”, all decked out in his “desert” garb. Apparently a tradition for Nile navigators.
Finally, the immaculate kitchen and a demonstration of making the best baba ganoush we’ve ever tasted.
Carriage Ride to the Temple of Horus at Edfu
Our driver, Mohammed, or was it Achmed (every driver we’ve had is called one of the two), takes us for a wild ride through Edfu city to the big square in front of the Temple.
Edfu is built on the rise above the Nile river valley, so it escaped the devastating Nile floods. It’s the most completely preserved Egyptian Temple. Remember, a Temple is not a place of worship. It’s a home for the gods. It was built about 200 years BC. The Temple is dedicated to Horus (the falcon god), the avenging son of Isis and Osiris.
The glyphs, reliefs, columns, and exterior, even remnants of original color are in astounding shape. Only 200 years ago the temple was covered with sand and rubble from the village of Edfu that had spread as high as, and over the roof.
The temple behind Edfu was decorated with a winged sun protected by cobras. It had a “lab” where chemicals were to make pharmaceuticals were produced.
We took the carriages back after a full, full day for a big buffet and a climb to the top deck to see the boat clear on of the impressive Nile locks in the dark.
Our boat was lowered about 30 feet in just a few minutes. That’s the bow of the Royal Lily lighting up the far lock gate. You can see the water line.
As the boat sailed on, we met a few of our fellow travelers who invited us to one of the cabins where we could open our previously purchased bottles of gin, vodka and wine (a Muslim country, liquor is somewhat available, but not readily, and especially the wine, not of the best quality). We had a great conversation, growing in intensity, and being of pretty much the same political persuasion, probably saved the world. We said warm good nights, and staggered a bit to our cabins as we sailed off to our final Nile stop, Luxor. See you there.